ASPECT (ВИД)

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ASPECT (ВИД)
Verbal Aspect for Elementary
Russian
Depending on how you
count them, English has
as many as
SEVENTEEN tenses.
I spent a few hours reading the
New Yorker last night, as I have
done for many years. I might
(correctly) say any or all of the
following:
• I read the New Yorker.
• I did read the New Yorker.
• I had read the latest New Yorker and
fallen asleep when suddenly….
• I was reading the New Yorker when
suddenly….
• I had been reading the New Yorker
for an hour when suddenly…
• I have read the New Yorker for years.
We could do this in the present
and the future, too… But you get
the idea.
In addition to TENSE, English has
ASPECT.
• Aspect, in short, indicates the speaker’s
SUBJECTIVE relationship towards
temporal flow when describing the event of
action.
But you are unaware of it, since
in English, choice of tense is also
choice of aspect.
Some tenses indicate perfective
aspect, others imperfective.
PERFECTIVE vs
IMPERFECTIVE
In simplest terms, PERFECTIVE
stresses the RESULT of an action
while IMPERFECTIVE stresses the
PROCESS.
When might I say…
I watched the Flintstones. (Perfective)
I was watching the Flintstones. (Imperfective)
No mistaking aspect…
Note that in English and in Russian, it’s
very difficult to make denotative
mistakes in aspectual choice. In other
words, whatever choice I make, no one
is going to be confused.
Aspect in Russian
• As you know, Russian is a “tense poor”
language: It has a past, a present, and a
future tense.
• Russian has ASPECT, too.
• Unlike English (where aspect and tense
are confused), Russian maintains
separate aspect because verbs have
multiple forms, some of which are
perfective and others imperfective.
ASPECT is a LEXICAL
PHENOMENON
• When teaching aspect, I am not teaching you grammar, I
am teaching you VOCABULARY.
• Up to today, ALL THE VERBS you have learned are
IMPERFECTIVE.
• Verbs in Russian exist in “clusters” of imperfective and
perfective verbs. For instance, the verb писать
(imperfective) has several perfective forms: написать,
записать, прописать, выписать, вписать.... And,
amazingly, each of those verbs has an imperfective verb:
написывать, записывать, etc.
• Let’s not get distracted…
But for your purposes, verbs
exist in PAIRS! One verb is
imperfective, the other is
perfective
Some examples…
IMPERFECTIVE/PERFECTIVE
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
смотреть (смо́трят)/посмотреть
писать (пишут)/написáть
чита́ть (-ают)/прочита́ть
ви́деть (ви́дят)/уви́деть
по́мнить (по́мнят)/запо́мнить
пить (пьют)/вы́пить
гото́вить (гото́вят)/пригото́вить
It is CRUCIAL to understand that
ASPECT and TENSE are
separate; you already KNOW
how to conjugate EVERY verb in
Russian.
RESULT versus PROCESS
• The PERFECTIVE stresses result; the
IMPERFECTIVE stresses process.
PRESENT TENSE IS
ALWAYS IMPERFECTIVE!
Past and Future Tenses
• In the PAST TENSE and FUTURE
TENSE, you have to choose one or the
other aspect, just as we do in English.
Present Tense
• In Russian, aspect DOES NOT pertain to
PRESENT TENSE, because (by its
nature) the present tense is ALWAYS
IMPERFECTIVE.
• Go on, TRY to emphasize result using the
present tense!
• Сейчас, я читаю и завтракаю и пью...
To form the PAST PERFECTIVE,
just conjugate the verb in the
past (написал, выпила,
посмотрели)
To form the FUTURE
PERFECTIVE, just conjugate the
perfective verbs as you would
any first- or second-congugation
verb: напишу, посмотрим,
прочитаешь.
Our motto…
• JUST CONJUGATE THE DAMN VERB!
How do you choose aspect?
Just as in English, aspect reflects the
speaker’s relationship (literally his view) on
the event or action.
Do you want to stress the PROCESS
(imperfective) or the RESULT (perfective) of
an action?
Another way to think of it: Could you take a
photograph of the sentence (perfective), or
would you need to make a film
(imperfective)?
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